Researchers have tested this phenomenon and found it to be true. They suspect that the Ben Franklin effect works because of ‘cognitive dissonance.’ It is difficult to reconcile the facts that we are doing someone a favor and that we hate them, and so we assume that we like them. In the above mentioned book-lending scenario, the rival, upon lending his priced book, rationalized his actions — we only do favors for people we like, so he must be liking Franklin irrespective of the animosity between them.
After becoming aware of the Ben Franklin effect, I can now understand why my classmates, co-workers, and colleagues, or any other person I asked for help on previous occasions, became warmer and friendlier to me as time passed.
The bottom line is that the more we put our efforts to help someone out, the more we get invested in them. We all have the urge to contribute whether it be to an individual or the entire human community. When we ask for a favor, we give another person an opportunity to contribute and that fulfills a basic human need for him. That may also be a major driving factor for the liking and warmth once the favor is done.
Overall, we can conclude that contribution strengthens the human bond. It doesn’t matter what the specific mechanism behind the Ben Franklin effect is, we must make sure that we use it with good intentions and ethics.
Understanding this phenomenon can be very beneficial in getting rid of the fear that we have when we ask someone to lend us a hand. We can let go of our hesitation, inhibitions, and discomfort when we ask for help, especially if we like to be self-reliant and reserved.
A strategic use of the Ben Franklin effect can be a win-win situation for us as well as others. It can help us in getting closer to people for mutually beneficial interests and also becoming warmer to the people we like and want to build a connection with.